Ukraine-Russia conflict approaches one-year anniversary with no end in sight

Riley Vedomske, Copy Editor

February 4, it was announced that over 170 people were released from a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. 116 Ukrainian soldiers and 63 Russian servicemen were released in the swap. Included in the prisoner swap were the bodies of two British volunteers who died in Ukraine, Chris Parry and Andrew Bagshaw. Parry and Bagshaw were killed by an artillery shell when trying to help an elderly woman evacuate from Soldedar, in the Donetsk Oblast region of Ukraine. Both men volunteered by helping citizens escape the frontline of the war.

February 24 is the upcoming one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  According to NBC News, Ukraine and the West are preparing for an offensive attack from Russia that they think is centered around the one-year anniversary. There are predictions that Russia will attack from the east or the south, but officials don’t think that Russia will try to capture Kyiv again. Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said that Russia announced they had 300,000 troops, but Reznikov thinks that they really have around 500,000 troops ready for the new offensive.

Andriy Kostin, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, has said that Russia has committed over 65,000 war crimes since the start of the war. 

“These crimes are not incidental or accidental, they include indiscriminate shelling of civilians, willful killing, torture, conflict-related sexual violence, looting and forced displacement on a massive scale,” Kostin said, according to CNBC.

Western allies of Ukraine, including the U.S., have agreed to send more weapons that Ukraine has requested. The U.S. is sending a Patriot air defense battery (a surface-to-air guided missile system), M1A2 ABRAMS Main battle tanks, STRYKER Armored personnel carriers and BRADLEY Infantry fighting vehicles. Germany, Poland, France and Britain are sending Ukraine multiple types of armored vehicles. In addition, France is sending two Crotale air defense batteries and Britain is sending AS90 self-propelled artillery systems. 

Ukraine wanted the U.S. to send F-16 fighter jets, but the U.S. declined that offer for the time being, not wanting to escalate the war into Russian territory and increase tensions between the West and Russia. According to CNN Politics, the U.S. is also unsure about sending the jets because of how long it might take to deliver them to Ukraine (if the war ends before the jets arrive), and because training Ukrainian pilots on how to use the jets might take a long time.